WHAT ARE EZINES?
Ezines are online magazines. They range in visual quality from beautifully-designed and finely-illustrated to very plain to so ornate it's hard to figure out where the writing is. Fiction of all genres, non-fiction, self-help even specialty hobby ezines abound on the net – just Google your favorite phrase and you're bound to come up with an ezine in your field of interest.
WHAT DO THEY OFFER?
The most obvious advantage is immediacy. Ezines often have a submissions turn-around time measured in minutes or hours rather than months. No SASE required, just electrons. Usually you can submit via email and you can send either in the body of the email – just cut & paste your whole story in – or as an attachment if the ezine permits. Always read the submission guidelines to see what they want.
Archiving is a wonderful thing – most ezines will archive your work online as a matter of routine, allowing you (and your fans) to access your work in past issues. Most ezines will also take down - after the initial publication time - any work you do not wish to have archived.
They also offer one of the widest readerships possible for your stuff – billions of readers from all over the world can access your writing. This is not to say they necessarily will, only that they can. Many have hit counters or readership statistics available, so you can get an idea of how popular a particular ezine is.
The most popular sites, like SLATE (which no longer publishes fiction) are operated just like a print magazine in many respects. Others are the online presence of actual print magazines, like THE NEW YORKER, and may even share editorial staff, guidelines and publication of submissions with their sister print magazine.
There is a certain amount of prestige accorded many ezines. Literary fiction ezines in particular serve a discriminating community, while many of the genre ezines are also routinely read by prize committees. The Pushcart Prize, Derringer and other prizes have been awarded to fiction published in ezines.
WHAT ABOUT MONEY?
Well, some pay quite well and some do not pay at all. Always check the guidelines for payment.
Some pay in cents-per-word, others in flat rate, still others in merchandise or print copies of sister magazines. Payment can be by check or through electronic funds transfer. I keep a PayPal account just for this.
WHAT ABOUT COPYRIGHT? WHAT RIGHTS HAVE I SOLD?
As in print magazines, the ezine usually copyrights your story for the duration of its run (the current issue) at which time the copyright reverts to you, the writer. As with other magazines, you need to read the contract or guidelines. ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE SOLD! (Back in the late 1990s, I sold all rights to several stories. At the time this sounded good as they paid me $100 per short story. But a few years ago a film company wanted to negotiate the rights to one of my stories and guess what – I didn't own it!)
Generally, the rights you have sold are First Electronic Rights and sometimes First World Rights which include First Print rights. This means you have reprint rights still in your bag to sell at a later time, either to a print magazine or to another ezine. Usually, with an ezine, you have sold your rights for a specific duration, and then allow archiving.
WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE STEALING YOUR STUFF?
Let me be very clear – publishing your work online in an ezine does not negate your copyright nor does it put your work in the public domain. That said, I just don't encounter it very often, and I do a regular net search looking for my materials.
WHERE CAN I FIND EZINES?
Here are a couple of guides. But Google is your friend when it comes to searching! And use your forums and online writing groups – many of them have market listings.
RALAN'S is one of the best market guides.
NewPages Guide to Online LiteraryMagazines is a good reference for literary fiction